What is SEMALT?
If you haven’t seen it already in your referral traffic, trust me it’s there. SEMAlt purports itself to be a “a professional webmaster analytics tool that opens the door to new opportunities for the market monitoring, yours and your competitors’ positions tracking and comprehensible analytics business information.”
What is it really? You’ll get various opinions as you search for answers across Google (this post from Nabble is the most comprehensive and researched I’ve found) – but the overall consensus is that it’s spam – more specifically, they are employing malware to crawl the web and spam server logs, potentially ruining your Google Analytics data. This referral spam is used by SEMAlt to drive traffic to their website, apparently to get users to sign up for their paid monthly service.
If you go to your Google Analytics and look at Acquisition > All Referrals, you will see SEMAlt referral traffic there. If you don’t, you probably will soon. In the image below – you’ll see the referral traffic data from a brand new website. SEMAlt is over 75% of the referral traffic to the website – with a 100% bounce rate. This is definitely screwing with our data!
Bottom line: It’s bad news and you should take steps to block it from your website.
How can you block SEMALT?
There are several ways to block the SEMALT crawler, but two that I’ve tested and can vouch for involve applying Google Analytics filters or editing the .htaccess file for each site. Do not try and use the tool provided by SEMalt, I’ve never seen it work.
How to Block SEMAlt Via Google Analytics
Blocking SEMAlt via Google Analytics doesn’t really “block” the crawler – this method simply filters the crawler out of your analytics data. It will clear all the future referral traffic from your view, giving you a clearer picture of your referral traffic (and overall traffic).
Here is a quick video that shows you how you can remove this referral spam from your future data in less than 2 minutes:
- Login to you Google Analytics account.
- Click on ‘Admin’ along the menu at the top of the screen.
- Click on the Views on the far right – create a new view, labeled “SEMAlt Exclusion”
- Click ‘Filters’ which is located in the far right-hand column. If you cannot see Filters this means you don’t have administrative access rights and that’s a different issue.
- Click ‘New Filter’
- Make sure that ‘Exclude’ is selected and ‘semalt.com’ is entered into the Filer Pattern field. The filter will also block all sub domains of SEMAlt such as 34.semalt.com as well as the main domain.
Click Save and you are done! You have now excluded SEMAlt from your referral traffic data. Once you have your filter live, keep in mind that it will only filter the data from this point forward. It does not retrospectively filter the visits out. This is why we created a new view with this filter first – this allows you to ensure that it’s a valid filter before applying it to your other Profile views.
How to Block SEMAlt via the .htaccess file
This method is my most used method as it blocks any and all referrals from the SEMAlt domain from accessing your site. This method will remove all of the future referral traffic from your analytics without the need for the filter outlined above. I prefer this method as it prevents the spammers from accessing your site at all, versus simply stripping the data out of the analytics.
To do this you add the following code to your .htaccess file for your site:
If you have a WordPress site, there are plugins that will allow you to edit the .htaccess file in the Theme editor – otherwise, you will most likely need to access your .htaccess file via FTP.
Once the code is added to your .htaccess file & uploaded, you are all done. Check your analytics moving forward and you’ll see a decrease in the referral traffic & overall bounce rate.
Aftermath of Blocking the SEMAlt Crawler
In this example, one day after blocking the SEMAlt crawler via .htaccess we saw huge improvements in the data. The site bounce rate went from an average of 80% when SEMAlt was hitting the site to an average of 10%! That’s an improvement of over 700% in bounce rate data alone – all thanks to removing one pesky crawler from the data.